Nara “Tokae” Lantern Festival! 2011, a set on Flickr.
Nara Toka-e is an annual summer night event in Nara Park amongst World Heritage Sites. Countless number of candles light the Nara Park, creating a beautiful and fantastic atmosphere. This event has grown to be a famous summer event of Nara, attracting many people every year.
Tens of thousands of candles are lit up in the land of ancient Nara, the capital of Japan 1300 years ago.
TO-KA is a lump of flower shape on the top of a candlewick after lighting a candle. It is said to bring good fortune.
From Nara Park, Sarusawa pond, Gojunidan area, Ukimido & Sagi pond, Asajigahara area, Ukigumoenchi area, Nara National Museum area, and Kofukuji temple area, about 20.000 candles are lit up, creating a romantic atmosphere.
These are the different spots that are illuminated:
Kofukuji Temple: The five-storied pagoda is one of the national treasures of Kofukuji Temple. The illuminated pagoda and bundles of candle lights displays the ancient capital of Nara in a different light than when seen during the day.
Sarusawa-ike Pond and the 52 Stairs: Sarusawa-ike pond is lined with candle lights and its surface reflects the five-storied pagoda of Kofukuji Temple, creating a picturesque night view. Seen from this site, Kofukuji Temple shows a different aspect of itself. Connecting the pond and the temple are 52 stone stairs. Candles are also set on both sides of the stairs. The stairs are the entrance to guide visitors to the world of the Toka-e Light Festival.
Gojyunidan: Gojyunidan is ascetic training stairs for Buddhist priesthood. With the candlelight, the steep 52 steps stands in front of you tells the profound meaning that each step has. It seems the gentle light leads you to Celestial world as if the only light knew the truth.
Ukimido Pavilion and Sagi-ike Pond: Ukimido Pavilion, Sagi-ike Pond and the surrounding area create a fantastic view filled with candle lights. Candles are placed around Sagi-ike Pond and on Horai Bridge which leads to Ukimido Pavilion. Even the boats floating on the pond have candles on the bows. Visitors may enjoy the lights from the boats
Asajigahara: Bamboo objets d’art are lit up by thousands of candlelight. That creates a magical atmosphere throughout. Candlelight scattered in the Bamboo objets d’art highlights the shadow beauty of trees.
Ukigumoenchi: The area is located in front of the New Public Hall and lit with about 4,000 candles. In Nara, history and culture have been cherished to this day. Each light lit in this land of rich historic and cultural assets soothes people’s hearts and invites them to a world of fantasy.
Nara National Museum: The museum which contains many ancient art pieces and the pond in front of it are surrounded by the light of the moon and candles. Also, the museum itself is illuminated, highlighting the beauty of the building.
Kasugano Field: Candles are lit around the spacious and lush lawn. Walking over the large green field in the moonlight with the calm candle lights has a special soothing effect on visitors.
Todaiji: Todaiji Temple was founded by Emperor Shomu. It is said that 15,000 candles were lit for the consecrating ceremony of the new Buddhist image. The Emperor must have wished the peace for the people in the candlelight. We light the candles wishing the peace the same as the people in Tenpyo Area beyond over 1,000 years of time. LIGHT UP 8/13(sat) 8/14(sun) from 19:00-21:45.
Blessed Shinto God is enshrined in the country of Yamato. As you walk along the approach you might feel the existence of Yamato God in the solemn atmosphere. You will catch your breath at the enchanting sight of the vermilion Shrine in the darkness by the candlelight and the bronze hanging lanterns. LIGHT UP 8/14 from: 19:00-21:45
Watch the YouTube clip here